It's obviously too early to know for certain, but on the final day of the 2012 presidential campaign there seems to be a general consensus forming that President Obama is well-positioned to beat Mitt Romney at the polls tomorrow. And in the face of that prospect, some in the media are already beginning to challenge the legitimacy of Obama's reelection.
On November 4, Politico published an article enumerating the "lessons learned" from the 2012 campaign. Among them was the surprising assertion that the coalition Obama put together to win reelection -- "Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites" -- is insufficient to provide the incumbent the political capital he might otherwise enjoy were he to have the support of independents and white voters. "A broad mandate this is not," declared authors Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen.
Politico didn't explain why broad mandates rest on the shoulders of whites and independents, simply asserting instead that Obama, should he win, will win in a way that lacks legitimacy. Part of their analysis, however, rested on the myth that the United States is "a center-right country," which certainly helps to explain why they'd view an electoral coalition that excludes the center-right's top constituency -- white men -- as a political nonstarter.
While Politico went the route of demography, conservative pundits are instead opting for catastrophe. Specifically, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, suggesting that Romney was poised to run away with the election until Sandy halted his "momentum" and gave Obama a boost in public opinion going into the campaign's final week.
Joe Scarborough repeatedly shouted over Morning Joe co-host Mika Brezinksi's attempt to discuss reports of early voting problems in Florida, a result of voting restrictions enacted by the Republican-dominated state government.
Recent changes in Florida's voting laws led to long lines and confusion the weekend before Election Day, with some voters waiting up to seven hours and others being turned away from the polls just days before their last chance to vote. Circumstances were so difficult for South Florida voters that the Atlantic Wire ran a story on Monday morning titled, "Voting Is Already a Mess in Florida."
In response to these reports, Brzezinski said "We've been talking about the impact of early voting in this race. There are some issues with early voting in Florida over the weekend when the Miami-Dade elections department closed its doors with hundreds of people still lined up outside. The center was shut down for an hour until officials were given permission to extend in-person absentee voting. Democrats have now filed a federal lawsuit to force the state's Republican-controlled government to extend early voting hours in South Florida."
Scarborough dismissed the story as an attempt to say: "Republicans bad. Rick Scott bad. Voting suppression." As Brzezinski and the Morning Joe guests continued to discuss the early voting issues in Florida, Scarborough repeatedly interrupted, yelling "Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi," making it nearly impossible for anyone to get a word in edgewise.
Nate Silver has a computer model. Each day he plugs the data from the various national and swing state polls into that model, numbers are crunched, simulations are run, and he posts the results on his New York Times blog indicating who is more likely to win the presidential election: Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. (As of this posting, Silver's analysis has Obama winning in 74.6 percent of scenarios.) And for this, Silver is coming under attack from pundits who insist that their gut feeling tells them the race is a true toss-up.
"Anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they're jokes," complained Joe Scarborough on the October 29 Morning Joe.
Complaints like Scarborough's are helped along by publications that have an interest in maintaining the view of a race that is essentially a flip of the coin, and in preserving the importance of their own roles as gatekeepers with access to critical insider information. Politico's Dylan Byers cited Scarborough's criticism along with that of New York Times columnist David Brooks in positing that Silver may be a "one-term celebrity."
"If you tell me you think you can quantify an event that is about to happen that you don't expect, like the 47 percent comment or a debate performance, I think you think you are a wizard. That's not possible," Times columnist David Brooks, a moderate conservative, said on PBS earlier this month. "The pollsters tell us what's happening now. When they start projecting, they're getting into silly land."
It makes sense that pundits like Scarborough and Brooks would have it out for a numbers guy like Silver. Their oeuvre is the intangible. They analyze based on gut feelings and nonspecifics. Their great trick is to transform the utterly unquantifiable into something approaching concrete certainty.
Media figures including New York Times columnist Frank Bruni and MSNBC host Joe Scarborough are distorting President Obama's proposals to claim that the president has said he will rely solely on taxes to cut the deficit. In fact, Obama has proposed a balanced approach of spending cuts combined with tax increases on the wealthy to reduce deficits.
On September 9, CBS News reported Obama's "plan for reducing the deficit would cut $2.50 in spending allowances for every $1 of increased tax revenue." Obama has advocated a balanced approach to deficit-cutting for years and continues to advocate it to this day. Indeed, some progressives have criticized Obama's budget proposals for cutting spending too much.
But in a column for the latest Sunday edition of the Times, Bruni claimed that Obama is suggesting that "extra taxation on the rich alone can solve many of our budget problems." Bruni wrote:
President Obama admits that he'd like taxes raised on households making more than $250,000. But he casts those increases as an insurance policy against any significant hikes on everyone else, and puts an emphasis on them far out of bounds with their potential impact. The implication is that extra taxation on the rich alone can solve many of our budget problems. That's savvy marketing, smart politics and utter bunk.
Scarborough similarly said that "we can't raise taxes to solvency," but "Obama's answer to everything" is "we're going to raise taxes on the rich."
The right-wing media have repeatedly pushed this falsehood that Obama wants to increase taxes to reduce the deficit while opposing spending cuts of any kind. They have also erected and knocked down the straw-man argument that taxing the wealthiest Americans at 100 percent would eliminate the deficit.
And Scarborough took this particular straw man even further. During the segment, he claimed that even if the government used tanks to seize all the assets of the top 1 percent, it would not close the deficit:
SCARBOROUGH: We could seize the assets of the top 1 percent. Take everything. Take 100 percent, go in with tanks, take their homes, sell them. Do all of that. That still wouldn't make us solvent -- not more than for eight, nine, 10 months.
From the October 19 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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From the October 11 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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From the October 10 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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Joe Scarborough and Fox & Friends lashed out at the Obama campaign and other media outlets this morning for accurately pointing out that Mitt Romney relied on falsehoods during the first presidential debate.
Both Fox and MSNBC's Morning Joe showed clips of Obama campaign surrogates on Sunday morning news shows pointing out that during the debate, Romney had abandoned positions he had previously advocated and misrepresented the details of his own plans. Scarborough and Fox labeled this "desperate" and "sleazy Chicago politics."
But the facts are on the side of Romney's critics. For instance, although Romney denied that his plan would cut taxes by $5 trillion, the plan does indeed call for reductions in rates that would amount to $480 billion a year for 10 years. Despite repeated opportunities, Romney has refused to spell out which loopholes would be closed to offset those cuts.
Similarly, Romney said during the debate that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered under his health care plan. But Talking Points Memo reported that Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom acknowledged after the debate that that those people would most likely not be insured under Romney's plan, but would have to rely on states passing their own regulations in order to obtain coverage.
On Morning Joe, Scarborough described coverage in The New York Times' Sunday Review section as "desperate," and applied the same label to comments by Obama senior strategist David Axelrod.
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough pushed the long-debunked falsehood that President Obama told Americans "you didn't build that."
Scarborough's claim is based on a right-wing media falsehood that Obama told business owners that they didn't build their own businesses. That falsehood became so pervasive that Republicans adopted it as a theme for their 2012 convention. However, in the relevant remarks, Obama touted the role that infrastructure, education, and individual drive play in business owners' success.
Scarborough claimed that Obama "believes that we didn't build it, that individuals don't cause the economy to explode." Scarborough added that Obama believes that "you let the federal government spend trillions of dollars and good things will happen. We Republicans disagree."
But contrary to Scarborough's suggestion, Obama has proposed both tax cuts and spending to jumpstart the economy. For instance, the 2009 stimulus contained $282 billion in tax relief, and the American Jobs Act, which Obama proposed but Republicans have blocked. has more tax cuts than new spending.
Unemployment dropped to 7.8 percent, a number that seemed to bewilder a skeptical MSNBC host Joe Scarborough this morning, who responded to the monthly jobs report by saying, "These numbers don't add up, it doesn't make sense."
Scarborough maintained his skepticism of the number's veracity throughout the October 5 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, despite receiving explanations from analysts like Josh Green, from Bloomberg Businessweek, who noted earlier in the show:
One reason this number went down, is we didn't just add 114,000 new jobs, there were the upward revisions in August and in July. So we're talking well over 200,000 new jobs. I think that's evidence that business is getting off the sidelines, hiring.
Instead, Scarborough turned to former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, who tweeted a conspiracy theory implying the Obama administration influenced the unemployment numbers:
The Morning Joe panel read the tweet aloud "for entertainment value," according to Scarborough, but co-host Mike Barnacle responded to the tweet, saying, "I don't know where the number came from, I hope it's accurate - I just don't know."
Media figures have used the recent attacks on the U.S. embassy in Egypt and consulate in Libya to make Islamophobic comments, from claiming that "they hate us because they hate us" to asking guests if they think "there is a Muslim problem in the world."
Natural gas can help the U.S. transition away from reliance on coal in the near-term if it is produced responsibly. But conservative media have dismissed the risks involved with the rapid spread of natural gas extraction to push for deregulation, attack the Obama administration, and ignore the need for a comprehensive energy policy to transition to renewable energy.
Media conservatives are pushing the narrative that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's attacks against President Obama over the economy will be effective because Obama favored health care reform rather than focusing on "fixing the economy." However, this narrative falters when confronted with the facts, including that Obama pushed through the first of many economic initiatives a month after he was elected -- more than a year before health care reform became law.
From the December 14 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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From the December 6 broadcast of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
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